Immigration Laws in Texas: What you Need to Know

Texas Immigration Law in a Nutshell

You may be considering emigrating to the US and are wondering what the requirements are. You may be a refugee trying to assess your chances of being admitted under refugee status. Or perhaps you are in Texas and have an issue with the authorities regarding your immigration, or you are a noncitizen facing deportation. You may even be a new immigrant, eager to find out what benefits are available to you.

In this article, we will look at immigration very broadly and hopefully address your issues. Immigration law deals with matters of immigration into the US and deportation from the US. Federal immigration authorities enforce federal law through law enforcement officers.

Immigration law is vast and complex, so you may wish to consider speaking to a lawyer for professional information about Immigration Laws in Texas. Contact Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, to schedule an appointment today!

An Overview of Immigration Laws in Texas

Federal immigration laws set the stage for immigration into the US. However, states have the power to establish state policy within state and local governments. So, for instance, states can decide which public services immigrants have access to, and they can establish employee screening requirements.

Anybody who is not a national or a citizen of the US is considered an “alien”. Federal immigration law determines the rights and obligations of aliens. This law also regulates how aliens can become naturalized citizens with full citizen rights. There is federal immigration enforcement at the borders that try to prevent people from crossing the borders into the US. Their actions are regulated by federal law and aim to prevent physical illegal immigration. In addition, they are responsible for border security and homeland security. Since immigration remains a heated topic, the laws change regularly, depending on which party is in power. A competent law firm should keep abreast of all of these changes in the law so they can give you dependable advice on your rights. You could see the law as providing a filter on who may enter the country, how long they can remain, and when they must exit again. There are three primary considerations when qualifying aliens for immigration:
  • Scarce skills.
  • Protection of refugees or humanitarian reasons.
  • Family reunification.
The Immigration and Nationality Act governs immigration policy.

Types of US Visas

If you want to enter the United States legally, you require a visa. It does not matter whether you intend to come permanently or temporarily. If you’re going to come permanently, you must apply for a “green card.” A nonimmigrant visa is issued for people whose intent is temporary. In both cases, there is an application procedure that needs to be followed. If you are already in the US, you must apply for special immigration status.

Immigrant Visas

Your immigrant visa affords you the status of a lawful permanent resident (LPR). As an LPR, you can apply for most jobs and stay in the US even if you remain unemployed. Once you have stayed in the US for three to five years, you can apply for US citizenship. Texas requires state contractors to use the E-Verify system whenever hiring workers.

Nonimmigrant Visas

Nonimmigrant visas are temporarily issued to noncitizens. Typically these would be given to a tourist, a student wishing to study in the US, and a temporary worker.

Visa Procedures

Once you have identified what type of visa you need, you have to follow the correct procedure. Most people obtain a visa at a US consulate before traveling to the United States. For people already in the US, other criteria must be met to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident or to change to a different type of visa.


A visa does not give you the absolute right to remain for the period stipulated in your visa. For example, the Federal government has the right to deport you if you commit an aggravated felony within the US. In fact, anyone in the U.S. who is not a U.S. citizen can be subject to deportation or removal proceedings. If you fail to register your address change as required by your visa terms, you could be deported if you cannot present an acceptable mistake or excusable circumstance. Another example of probable deportation is if an alien is found to have forged their ID document before being granted a visa.

Deportation is preceded by official deportation proceedings held in front of immigration judges.

Deportation proceedings are typically initiated when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) files a “Notice to Appear” alleging the basis for removal. During the proceeding, the immigration judge has to determine whether an individual can remain in the United States.

According to the report of the American Immigration Council, about 11 million people in the U.S. don’t have regular immigration status, and almost 2 million of them have already obtained final orders of removal. However, they remain in the states either because immigration law officials don’t know their location or through executive discretion. 

Common grounds for deportation include:

  • Failing to update your residential address every three months, if so required.

  • Fraudulently marrying to gain US admission.

  • Assisting other aliens to enter the US illegally.

  • Being involved in activities that threaten national security.

  • Voting unlawfully.

Let’s look at the three main principles qualifying you for immigration.

Family as Grounds for Immigration

A common reason requested for immigration is that of family. For example, a US citizen may petition for a parent who lives abroad to be granted immigration status in the US.

Scarce Skills as Grounds for Immigration

Someone living and working in the US under a specific employment visa could apply for immigration based on certain skills required in the US.

Refugee Admissions

It is well known that many people are admitted into the US under refugee status or as asylum seekers. These people generally seek humanitarian relief.

False Information

When applying for a visa, lying during the application process could be detrimental. The authorities treat lies harshly, and even a tiny white lie can be used against you getting your application accepted. This applies to your written application and how you carry yourself when you enter the country.

Some Immigration Law FAQ

What Crimes are Eligible for Deportation in Texas?

Aggravated felonies attracting deportation include:

  • Murder.

  • Drug trafficking.

  • Human or firearm trafficking.

  • Rape, child pornography, or sexual abuse of a minor.

  • Terrorist activity.

  • Tax evasion.

  • Money laundering.

  • Fraud or bribery.

  • Treason.

Can a Police Officer Ask Your Immigration Status in Texas?

It is not permitted in Texas for police officers to stop and detain a person solely due to a suspicion that a person is an undocumented immigrant. However, if a police officer is investigating a potential criminal offense, the law allows law enforcement officers to enquire about immigrant status, but they are not required to do so.

How can a lawyer help with the immigration process in Texas?

An immigration lawyer can offer invaluable assistance in the complex immigration process in Texas. They provide guidance on the appropriate forms to fill out, deadlines, and documents required. They can help understand the intricacies of immigration laws, ensuring compliance and avoiding potential pitfalls that could lead to rejection, delays, or even deportation. They can also represent clients in court if necessary. Furthermore, they stay updated on the ever-changing immigration policies, providing the most current advice. For complicated cases, such as asylum or cases involving criminal records, the expertise of an immigration lawyer can be crucial.

Where Can I Find the Immigration Laws?

US immigration laws are found in Title 8 of the US Code, or the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Immigration law is complex and can be pretty confusing. Different states have different laws which bolster federal immigration policies. If applying for a visa, your best source of reliable information is a reputable law firm. It is not advisable to proceed on the advice of government officials at immigration services. Incorrect advice due to lack of knowledge will not assist you once you have been denied a visa.

Andrew T. Thomas is able and willing to help you with legal advice around immigration law in Texas. Nationwide, approximately 16.7 million families have at least one or more unauthorized family members or undocumented immigrants living in the same household. We also offer full Family Law services. We fight to keep families together – call us today.